Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, atop a hill up on high, there sat a massive stone castle, its lone inhabitant a handsome but imprisoned prince. But can said prince find his freedom, not to mention his happily ever after, with his winged lover?
NOTE: This story appears in Rob Rosen's best-selling collection, Short Spurts.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, atop a hill up on high, there sat a massive stone castle. So tall was this castle, in fact, that the rooms in its loftiest tower overlooked the billowing clouds down below. These rooms, however, held but one resident, namely a handsome prince, imprisoned by the king until he was old enough to rule the land and take a mate. Sadly, for this captive prince, the age of kingship was fifty, and the prince was just shy of turning twenty-five. Half a life away from freedom, it would seem.
And so, the prince, alone in his towering prison, sat at his window and miserably sighed, a lone tear cascading down his scruffy cheek. “Oh how I wish to find a mate now, and live like my people do in the land down below.”
But in a castle high above the clouds there was no mate to choose from and no way to escape. The only other beings the prince had any sort of contact with were the birds, creatures with wings that were capable of soaring past the window he often stared out of as he waited, wishing for a better, less lonely life.
Unbeknownst to the prince, though, there were other creatures with the ability to fly above the clouds, and one was fast approaching on gossamer wings that glistened in brilliant gold beneath the bright orange sun. The prince, gazing out of the window in shock and surprise, spotted the glinting object as it fast approached. Terrified, he ran from the window and hid beneath his bed. Minutes ticked by. The prince, hearing not a sound, assumed he was safe, and eventually poked his head out.
“Hello,” said the being who now stood in his room.
“Oh,” said the prince. “How, um, who, um, what are you?”
“What am I?” it was asked, magnificent wings unfurled. “What are you? Only birds and fairies live this high off the ground. You, from what I can gather, are neither of the two.”
The prince inched further out as he craned his neck upward. “But that, that would mean you’re a fairy. And fairies are not real, except in children’s books, that is.”
“I beg to differ,” the fairy in question proclaimed, flapping his diaphanous wings as he stood there, arms akimbo, as a bright, wide smile spread across his impossibly beautiful face. He was also stunningly naked from stem to stern, something the prince couldn’t help but notice in both surprise and lecherous delight.
The prince tumbled out from under the bed and rose to his full six feet. “I, dear fairy, am a human,” he proclaimed.
“Nonsense. Humans live far below the clouds. So far, in fact, that I have yet to ever encounter one.”
“Well,” said the prince, echoing the fairy’s smile with one of his own, “I believe this then is a first for the both of us.” He bowed and held out his hand. “Prince Nathan. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
The fairy, thrilled at the opportunity to meet a human, reached his hand out in greeting. “Lothar,” he said with a firm shake.
And in that instant, when human flesh met fairy flesh, when the magical irrevocably mixed with the non-magical, time suddenly and abruptly stood still all around them. The air ceased to flow, and the candles halted in mid-flicker. Only Nathan and Lothar could still be considered animate in that room so high above the earth.